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Cuomo focuses on affordable, high-speed internet in State of the State

Published: Jan. 12, 2021 at 10:49 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 13, 2021 at 5:02 AM EST
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PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) - New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered part two of his State of the State address Tuesday. It was a much shorter speech.

The governor touched on topics like expanding rapid coronavirus testing and ways to help the economy and the arts industry. But he dedicated much of the speech to making broadband accessible and affordable. Cuomo says that will have a direct impact to those living in the North Country.

Local lawmakers say they hope it’s not just another broken promise.

“My job, I view, is to make sure it doesn’t fall off his radar,” said Sen. Dan Stec, R-Queensbury.

Sen. Dan Stec and Assemblyman Billy Jones say they were pleased to see the governor put so much emphasis on the need for affordable, accessible broadband.

“Access is one thing but access if it’s not affordable is meaningless. A basic high-speed internet plan costs, on average, over $50 per month. For too many families, this just isn’t affordable,” said Cuomo, D-New York.

The lawmakers also note that as more students rely on remote access for learning and businesses try to open back up and get online, they need their connection to be stable and reliable, as well.

“With the satellite service that’s out there right now, we are just wasting our time. I get calls in my office every day, ‘They are saying we are covered. We are covered by satellite service, it is not an effective service. It’s not getting us the service that we need,’” said Jones, D-Chateaugay Lake.

The governor touts that 98% of the state has access to some form of broadband but lawmakers in the North Country say that those numbers are based on a faulty system.

“We knew that the maps that were being used and relied on by the broadband office weren’t accurate. They went by a census block and if one house in the census block had service, then the whole block was considered to be served. Well, that’s ludicrous,” Stec said.

Both Jones and Stec have been advocates for years to make the signal stronger in the North Country, saying it’s a basic human need like electricity.

“It’s one of those things where it’s kind of quasi-governmental; it’s a service that everyone should have,” Stec said.

The governor said he plans to propose a mandate that will call on internet providers to “recognize their public responsibility and offer $15 per month high-speed internet” for low-income families in the state.

Click here to read the governor’s full remarks or watch his full speech in the player below.

You can watch part 1 of Cuomo’s State of the State address below.

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